BBB Hot Topics: February 2014

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By Better Business Bureau

 Check out the latest scams and bad business in BBB’s February 2014 Hot Topics!

1.    Don’t fall for the One Ring Scam! Here is how the scam works: Your cell phone rings once, then hangs up. To see who it was, you check the caller ID. It shows unknown or a long-distance area code you are not familiar with. Curious, you call back. Later, you find a fee on your cell phone bill, often $19.95 for a “premium service.”

2.    Hearing Impaired Scam: A local roof company received an email from someone saying they were hearing impaired, and they would like to hire the company to put a roof on their house. The business owner went to see the home, put together an estimate, and emailed it back to the individual. Later, the business owner received a check in the mail for the job. However, it included instructions on wiring excess funds back to the individual. Unfortunately, the check was fake, and the business owner just wasted his valuable time. Scam artists often use this scam to disguise their voice because they are from foreign countries.

3.    Beware of Tax Scams! Don’t talk to anyone claiming to be from the IRS on the phone. The agency will not call you. Scammers will pose as IRS collection personnel offering you a refund. All you need to do is provide your personal information. Also, the IRS does not send emails to taxpayers!

4.    Scammers are using Publishers Clearing House for another scam. Local consumers are receiving calls, being told they won a prize. All they need to do is send their tax refunds by Green Dot Money Pak so they can release the winnings.

5.    Beware of Duplicate Facebook Friends! In this trick, you get a “friend” request from someone who’s already a friend. It has a genuine photo of your friend and a list of other friends you already know. The motive? Possible ID theft, or the imposter may just want to spam your friends. Don’t accept a duplicate friend request. Let your friend know about it and once you know it’s fake, report it to FB.

6.    The email appears to be a ”Funeral Notification” and invites you to an upcoming “celebration of your friend’s life.” The email appears to be from a local funeral home, even using its logo. The email instructs you to click a link for more information, which sends you to a fake website. You end up with malware on your computer.

7.    Don’t fall for Job Scams! Pyramid schemes are some of the best known, working on the premise that each person must bring in at least two more paying participants, who must bring in two more, and so-on. They promise that you will “make a lot of money fast” but that’s only true for the perpetrator of the scheme. Some ask for upfront fees. After you pay, you get a stack of postcards to mail out to people you know, inviting them to sign up.

8.    Hearthware, Inc. has an “F” rating with BBB. The company sells products, like its NuWave Oven, on infomercials. In the past three years, 1,291 complaints have been filed against the company. The largest number of complaints allege consumers were charged either for free products or for exorbitant shipping and processing fees associated with products they thought were free. Other complaints include faulty product, difficulty in returning or receiving a refund, and misleading advertising.

9.    Valentine’s Scams: Beware of love online! Scammers will try to steal your heart on online dating sites, eventually asking for money to “come see the victim.” Also beware of fake e-cards. If you receive an e-card from an “unknown friend,” you may want to delete it. It could be infected with a virus.

10.  Sending flowers, candy, or gifts for Valentine’s Day? Do your homework first! Be sure it’s a company you can trust. When buying flowers, review the description of the flower arrangement. Allow time for shipping. Get a receipt with all information, including where the arrangement will be delivered. Check out the company at www.bbb.org.